The player characters (PCs) rested in the city of Strigis after their scuffle with the dwarvish kidnappers, Riswoan and Leira. However, Cicero’s messenger Rachel requested they return to the chapel at which they had discovered those same kidnappers, to talk to the Ashoumite priest who had given them shelter. This is the same chapel that led to a portion of the Ashoumite catacombs beneath Strigis.
The old priest, a Brother Benedict, made a proposition to the PCs. Before they encountered him, he had given Riswoan and Leira access to the Ashoumite catacombs, so that they could plunder what riches — possibly conventional treasure, but also undiscovered scrolls and texts — lay within them. However, Riswoan and Leira had seemed to stall on this task, instead resorting to kidnapping and hiding their victims in the catacombs in order to get rich quick. (It was unclear to Benedict why they had chosen to kidnap Marcus, but Marcus may have hidden wartime spoils of his own in the city, possibly in the catacombs.) It was previously agreed, between the priest and the dwarves, that they would equally divide the treasure. Now that agreement is rendered null, seeing as how the dwarves are in the custody of the Magistrate of Strigis.
Therefore, Brother Benedict offered to make a similar agreement with the PCs: they would search through the catacombs for treasure, evenly splitting their gains with Benedict. Such a task now must be very quickly accomplished, as Benedict heard word that, now that Lord Arawn knows of an entrance into the Ashoumite catacombs, he will be sending masons and soldiers to seal up the entrance below the chapel. Brother Benedict predicted that these men would arrive just before dawn, giving the PCs about 12 hours to explore the catacombs. Traversing the catacombs is no easy task, according to Benedict. They are inhabited by “Vengeful Ones” — the spectral ghosts of Ashoumites, the effects of whose enervating touch can last for weeks. The Vengeful Ones also use ghouls and zombies — less powerful, corporeal undead — to do their bidding. A Vengeful One called “the Antiquarian” keeps various treasures and tomes in its lair in the catacombs, and should be the Vengeful One that the PCs target. Vengeful Ones are resistant to physical damage, but can be most effectively damaged by some spells, and by holy water.
In addition, Marcus requested that the PCs retrieve the body of his lover, Reena. Benedict also gave the PCs a specific pathway to reach the Antiquarian’s lair. Straying from this path could lead the PCs into segments of the catacombs dwelt by gangs of Vengeful Ones too numerous for the PCs to overcome.
The PCs wasted little time in arming themselves, and borrowing a few vials of holy water from Brother Benedict. They fought through two packs of ghouls and zombies (including a single Vengeful One), as well as a large gargoyle in the shape of an angel. They also defeated the minions of the Antiquarian, leaving his own destruction to one of his own spectral rivals. At the end of the day, the Antiquarian’s treasures were looted, and the PCs fled the catacombs to return them to Benedict, while discussing how to find Reena.
Janduin left the PCs to serve Lord Arawn, effectively taking full credit for rescuing Marcus. (Not a selfish decision, seeing as how the Prince had forbidden entry into the catacombs.) Pip also left the PCs, accompanying Janudin. Araceli behaved very boorishly to Janduin and Rachel.
The PCs encountered several oddities in the catacombs: (1) They encountered and quickly destroyed a torpid ghoul, which according to Benedict may have been a ghoul in the process of “becoming;” (2) They encountered, interrogated, and permitted to flee a lone ghoul; (3) They encountered the preserved corpse of a gnoll; (4) They encountered relatively recent (perhaps by one month) remains of a young human, suggesting past entry into the catacombs; (5) They released a Vengeful One named Marva, apparently sealed in a magical clay jar. Marva claimed that unlike the other Vengeful Ones in the catacombs, she was a worshiper of the pagan goddess Hecate, and was thus imprisoned by the Antiquarian, her “nemesis.” While Marva took a rather flexible (and grandiose) approach to the truth, she aided the PCs against the Antiquarian, splitting its treasure with them.
The party spent:
- Several of their mushrooms of healing
The party gained:
- Two doses of holy water, from Brother Benedict
- A sum of fabulous treasure, in the form of old Ashoumite scrolls and texts, and a pile of old, battered gold and silver coins, and a rather sturdy treasure chest.
- A strange, apparently unmagical cube of lumber, one foot in breadth.
- A scroll of magic weapon, a scroll of lesser restoration.
- A portrait (four by three feet), framed in brass, of a handsome, middle-aged woman; identity if any unclear.
- A human skull, with a small emerald pressed within a niche carved into its forehead.
The party’s adventuring bill for this session is 4 gp: a bit higher than usual, thanks to money spent investigating in the slums. (This sum was not accounted for last section, so is repeated here.)